(CNN)This product "may contain feces."
That's the label that one consumer rights advocacy group wants for the government to require meat distributors put on the food they send out to grocery stores.
The recommendation is tongue-in-cheek, Deborah Press, an attorney for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, tells CNN. The group represents 12,000 physicians whose mission includes promoting plant-based diets and ethical scientific research.
But it gets at real concerns the PCRM has about the US Department of Agriculture's food safety inspection system.
The US Department of Agriculture has a "zero tolerance policy for fecal material on meat and poultry," a spokeswoman told CNN.
USDA said it sends inspectors out to facilities who look at a "statistically valid sample of carcasses randomly selected throughout the production shift."
If inspectors find fecal material on an animal carcass, they ensure that contaminated meat can't enter the food supply, USDA said. And if inspectors observe repeat infractions, the FSIS uses "progressive enforcement actions" against the meat company.
But Press says USDA's current inspection policy isn't good enough because it only applies to fecal matter that's "visible" on the production line.
And the USDA has relaxed its rules on the speed at which poultry companies can process birds. The requirement used to be 140 birds per minute, but has since been raised to 175 birds per minute.
That would mean those working on the line are scanning about three birds per second. They're whizzing by at a rate that's hard for the naked eye to comprehend.
Doctors are looking for answers
For at least six years, the PCRM has been asking questions about fecal matter contained in the birds we eat on a daily basis.
Yesterday, the group filed a lawsuit in a federal district court based in Washington, DC.
The question matters, first of all, for the obvious gross factor. "Nobody wants to eat feces," Press says. But it gets more dire quickly: harmful microbes like E. coli are found in fecal matter.
Despite their questions and follow-ups, they say they're not getting straight answers from the government about its food inspection procedures.